The writers of Seinfeld used to point out that the show’s great strength was that the characters learnt nothing from their escapades.
In this rip-roaring production at the SJT there’s plenty happening, and some serious issues are tackled head on. But does David O Selznick emerge changed from being locked in a room for five days with his writer and director? I suspect not. He seems to take a line of all’s well that ends well, and of course that’s one thing we can rely on in this tale of the making of Gone With the Wind. It did end well, careers were saved, and the studio covered itself in glory.
That’s far from the picture as the play opens. Selznick, played with great panache by Kieran Buckeridge, is in a panic. He’s just sacked the director, and the script is a stinker. The most expensive film ever is dead in the water. He calls in his old pals Ben Hecht and Victor Fleming to rescue the project from disaster.
Hollywood luvvieness is pierced wittily as the trio by turns gush praise for eachother, then rail against hack workers and washed up execs. There’s hilarity and some great one-liners and double takes as the heat and exhaustion take their toll on reality.
The key issue of racism comes to the fore midway when Hecht (John Killoran), Jewish as is Selznick, puts his foot down over the script’s insistence on Scarlett O’Hara slapping the black maid. The trio eventally resolve that one, but could they really emerge as before from their banana-fuelled lock-in? Well, maybe they did. After all, that’s showbiz.
Moonlight and Magnolias runs at the SJT until 27 June
- Published in On Stage: Reviews